Tuesday, December 29

Bohemian Bourgeois

I've been fantasizing about this wonderful West Village, NYC restaurant I discovered last summer called Bobo. The name is short for 'Bourgeois Bohemian'-- a term that definitely describes the aesthetic of the space. There's lots of exposed brick, long curtains, antique chandeliers, books, candles and knickknacks tucked around the room.

And the outdoor patio stole my heart. Dining outside on a warm balmy eve is one of my favorite ways to cap off a long day, NYC or anywhere.

Sitting down to this bright, fresh asparagus and crab amuse, I knew I was in for a great meal.

I still think about this salad of frisee, celeriac, watermelon radishes, avocado and crispy shallots drizzled with balsamic reduction. It was just the right balance of flavors and textures.

And this ahi was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

I'm a sucker for mason jars and couldn't help smiling when this one landed on the table filled with sugar for our coffee. It's not only cute but smart (I'm also a sucker for smart!)

So many chocolate cakes fall short, but this one was spot on: chocolate cake layered with milk chocolate mousse, topped with salted caramel and a scoop of dulce de leche ice cream with a shard of toffee. Yum!

Okay...well, that was fun to relive out loud. I think if I were in NY right now, I'd be hailing a cab. Next year!

**top photo by Noah Sheldon for NY Magazine

Tuesday, December 15

Getting Local

When I’m in NY, I make sure to hit Local in Soho (on Sullivan between Houston & Prince). It’s just a couple doors down from my sis’s place, so it’s not hard to do. The owners, Craig and Elizabeth, have lived in the hood for a long while and have seen the myriad changes over the past couple decades. These two clearly knew just what the neighborhood needed, as it’s become a favorite hangout of, well, locals.

The menu is fresh, seasonal and consistently tasty with plenty of breakfast, lunch and snack options to satisfy sweet or savory hankerings. Their own unique (and fully Fair Trade) coffee blends are available to purchase so you can have your brew at home, too.

I was pretty smitten already but my bond with Local was solidified earlier this year when I walked in to find the fab photo essay ‘Obama’s People’ by Nadav Kander -- published in the NY Times Magazine -- framed and hung along the length of the one once-empty wall.

Next to the Local canvas tote bags for sale, there was even a laminated copy of the narrative for each of the portraits in the series – for anyone who hadn’t yet had a chance to take a gander. Not all of the politically conservative old-timers in the hood were as thrilled to see the photo essay as I was...

It’s a teeny joint with an open, welcoming, laid-back vibe and is entirely conducive to bumping into neighbors and other regulars. It’s one of those places that makes me feel at home even when I’m away. That goes for the delish, local food, too -- including the breads from Grandaisy Bakery down the street.

Local 123 - Berkeley

Just a few months ago, I was hunting and gathering for work over in Berkeley and stumbled upon Local 123.

Local 123 was named after a union headquarters that used to occupy the space and the owners, Frieda and Katy, have created a really comfortable spot both inside…

…and out back. Since I am often in search of warmer pastures in the summertime (which Berkeley usually provides) the outdoor patio’s been duly noted!

Local 123 is known for their housemade shortbread cookies, with versions in rosemary and cardamom. I’m especially partial to the cardamom as it’s one of my all-time favorite spices. And they serve up Flying Goat Coffee from Healdsburg to go with those fab shortbread cookies or any of the other carefully crafted menu choices that strike your fancy. Be sure to take notice of the groovy light fixtures that were created by a local artisan.

It’s nice to know that whether I’m traveling to the E. Coast or just across the bridge to the E. Bay, there’s a local spot I can tuck into to ground, regroup, refuel and feel right at home. Maybe I'll see you there one day!

Sunday, December 6

Ode to Eloise

I just learned that the lovely Restaurant Eloise in Sebastopol closed on Nov 29. I only had the pleasure of dining there once for a family celebration. We were all smitten with every aspect -- it was so elegant and yet down to earth.

I regret not posting this delicious memory sooner. Here’s my ode to the lovely Eloise:

Perfectly spicy, marinated Monterey Bay sardines with diced avocado, scallion and black sesame.

These clams were a bowl of spicy deliciousness.

Pillowy, ricotta & Swiss chard gnocchi with sage brown butter that just melted in my mouth.

A refreshing escarole salad with walnuts, red onion and shaved pecorino.

To finish, a perfectly soft vanilla panna cotta with the sweetest strawberries and a sprinkling of candied orange peel.

Should the super-talented chef/owners, Eric Korsh & Genevra Iverson, open another place anywhere near as delightful as Eloise, I will be sure to hustle on over and report back tout de suite!

Thank you to everyone at Restaurant Eloise for the delectable food and fond memories.